Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of the most famous sights in Scotland. I had seen beautiful pictures of this railway viaduct, which became famous because of the Harry Potter movies. I am not a Harry Potter fan, so I didn’t know if it was actually worth visiting not being a fan. In this blogpost I will give all my recommendations and I will tell you wether this viaduct is worth a visit.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct was finished in 1901, well before it got extremely famous because of the Harry Potter movies. The viaduct is located in a stunning piece of nature in Scotland, covered in greens. What makes the viaduct extra special is that the Jacobite Steam train crosses it several times a day, giving you that ultimate Harry Potter feeling. The viaduct itself is pretty spectacular, but you will want to see it when the train crosses. In the summer time the train crosses the viaduct twice a day, at around 10.45AM and 3PM. Please check the Jacobite train time table to be absolutely sure. You can park in front of the visitor center and watch the train pass by from below, but note that you need to be there well in advance of the train passing or you won’t find parking space.
Hike to Glenfinnan Viaduct
Nature in Scotland is so incredibly beautiful, I would recommend to enjoy it to its fullest and take a little hike to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. We arrived at around 1.30PM and spent a lot of time finding a parking spot. We got incredibly lucky and found one near the Glenfinnan dining car. At the Glenfinnan dining car you can have a simple lunch or cake, which I was looking forward too. However, it was incredibly crowded and they only had a few menu options. It is not possible to make reservations, so you have to be lucky to find a seat. Luckily, we brought sandwiches to have before our hike. There aren’t a lot of lunch options near the viaduct, so I would recommend to prepare accordingly.
We decided not to do the circular loop, as you will have to walk next to the road for quite some time. The hike straight to the Glenfinnan Viaduct starts right at the Glenfinnan Dining Car, you can take a little stairs down into the forest where you will find a boardwalk. After that there is a small path to the viaduct. Note that this is not well indicated, but you will encounter some other hikers taking this route. We took the same way back, to avoid walking in the road. It took us about a half hour to the Glenfinnan Viaduct and we really enjoyed all the views along the way. There are many midges in this part of Scotland, so you must get repellent.
Was it worth it?
You will read many blogs about how incredibly crowded it gets and I was a bit afraid, especially when we couldn’t find parking. However, it was not bad at all. It gets incredibly busy right in front of the viaduct, but when you get to the viewpoint of the hike, you will see small groups of people waiting for the train. I actually thought it was a fun activity to wait for the train together and everybody started making happy noises when we could finally hear the train!
If it was worth it? I will let you decide based on my pictures. I actually enjoyed this activity way more than I expected. Seeing the train cross was such a fun experience and the excitement of the other tourists added to it. You can hear it well in advance, which also adds to the suspense. The train doesn’t come by super quick, so you actually have time to enjoy it and photograph it. A nice surprise is that the train came back as we were making our hike back to the Dining Car.
Where to stay & midges in Glencoe
For our visit to Glencoe and Glenfinnan we stayed in The Pods by The Shack at Inchtree in Corran. Corran is a 40 minute drive from Glenfinnan and a 20 minute drive from the Three Sisters of Glencoe, so it was the perfect location for both visits. Even though we were traveling with our campervan we still decided to rent a little pod, because Glencoe is also famous for its midges, which are small flies that bite generously. We visited in July during very sunny days and during the day we hardly saw any midges. At night they did come out en masse. We wanted Hugo to have an opportunity to play and that was easier in the pod than in our small campervan. We found lodging in Scotland very expensive and we were happy we didn’t have to pay these prices each night. The pod cost € 165 per night and it came fully equiped with a little kitchen, coffee machine, shower and a Netflix tv. You cannot see it in the pictures but the landscaping was very pretty, but we didn’t make use out of this because we were hiking during the day and inside at night.